Gatland's return will not guarantee an All Blacks scalp

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James Mortimer     19 Nov 2012     Getty Images

Back-to-back losses to Argentina and Samoa to open their home international campaign has Wales on alert considering the importance of this month’s Test matches, with the 2015 Rugby World Cup draw for seedings to be made in December.

At this rate Wales runs the real risk of dropping outside the top eight, let alone fulfilling their goal on making the top four – which would result in them avoiding the likes of the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies during the early stages of the quadrennial tournament.

While Gatland has been recuperating from ankle surgery, Wales have been guided by Rob Howley and Neil Jenkins, and the two former Welsh internationals could not have predicted their ‘interim’ period would result in a zero from five ledger.

Samoa arrived in Cardiff with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, and the Grand Slammers should have been well versed as to what to expect from the ferocious Samoans.

Especially considering that Howley and Jenkins had intimate knowledge of Samoan muggings, with both playing in the infamous 38-31 result during the 1999 Rugby World Cup, a Pacific Island victory that sent the Welsh to a quarter-final against eventual champions Australia.

Jenkins said to the Independent that Wales would need to add a fair amount to their arsenal in the next week to compete with the World Champions.

“You're playing against the best side, who generally cope with what most opposition throw at them,” the former Welsh wonder boot said.

“We need balance - power, playing with our backs, a kicking game. We need to keep the ball for long periods, phase after phase, and make the All Blacks tackle.”

Whether or not everything would fall into place remains to be seen, with Jenkins admitting that Wales had few answers at the moment.

“We're as shocked as anyone with how we're going,” he said.

“How do we start winning the collisions again? Maybe run harder?"

Gatland would return to work, after spending time recovering and meeting Lions commitments, and Jenkins expected the boss to start as soon as he could.

“I'm sure he'll be in bright and early Monday morning,” Jenkins said.